Missouriâ€™s state constitution specifies that funding for public education is second in priority only to paying the public debt. In spite of this, there were significant withholdings from public education during the 2004 budget year. Although 47 percent of the stateâ€™s general revenue went to public education, 89 percent of Gov. Holdenâ€™s withholdings were from funds appropriated for education. During my administration, money that has been approved for public schools will NEVER be withheld.
The Missouri legislature did a great job last year putting together a budget that fully funded the state’s foundation formula in education. Bob Holden claimed there wasn’t enough money to fund it and withheld funds. School districts across the state panic peddled property tax increases and in some cases they won. Then Holden released the funds. Of course, the bureacrats aren’t jumping to give back the tax increases. Holden also, in a historic first, scolded the state legislature in his State of the State address, knowing full well that the money had been appropriated and that the revenues were sufficient to cover spending. With the money available, Bob Holden and his party chose to play politics with the education system in the state. That was wrong and Matt Blunt has pledged that, like every Missouri governor before him except one, he will spend the money the legislature appropriates to education. This shouldn’t be a hard pledge to keep.